Assumptions Insult My Intelligence

Imagine that you’re walking into court to divorce your spouse of ten years.  When you got married, you had wanted to stay with her for the rest of your life.  You enjoyed your honeymoon but cracks in the relationship had emerged by year five.  By year eight, you could barely stand her presence but you didn’t file divorce papers until year ten for financial reasons.

Now, you’re wearing the biggest grin you’ve had in years because you’re finally free.  You only need the judge’s approval and your life belongs to you again.

No permanent bondage here...  (Photo credit: Tangopaso)

No permanent bondage here… (Photo credit: Tangopaso)

The judge calls you to step forward and then immediately denies your petition to divorce.  The logic?  You were married to that woman for ten years so you must obviously love her too much to let her go… and you are to remain a prisoner to your former self.

You may think the scenario’s impossible, but…

I am an unemployed Ph.D.  Employers see the degree that took many years to earn and they assume that I am too wedded to my old field to really want the job for which I applied.  My resume doesn’t show how cracks started forming early on or how I had decided to pursue a nonacademic career a year or two before completing the degree.  It also doesn’t show that I only finished the degree because I had already poured so much time into it and was so close to completing it when I made that decision.

There’s not enough real estate on a cover letter to fit everything in.

And employers never get to hear much of that because you’re never supposed to badmouth your former employers or academic institutions.

When I’m lucky, employers ask me about it.  Usually, they just move on to the next resume.

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Inappropriate Sales Pitches Insult My Intelligence

Yellow Sphere, see

This picture is unrelated to this blog post, but I needed a picture.  I hope you enjoy it.   (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Looking for a job is so much fun…

I contacted a nonprofit job placement agency today that could be expected to specialize in My Professional Field.  I had a couple of very specific questions to ask and the response was a little lacking.  My thoughts on the matter are much more interesting than anything they wrote back to me:

1- You’re telling me that you never catch wind of anything in my field?  Did you read anything I wrote to you?

2- Oh, I see.  You want to sell me your services.  If you had read what I wrote you, you might have deduced that I have already obtained said services elsewhere for free.  I’ll give you a pass on this one because I didn’t quite spell it out slowly and simply so you could understand.

3- I can forgive #’s 1 and 2 because all funds spent on your services are going to a cause I might donate to if I were employed.  I remember a must-read article at PBS that talked about some horrible things LinkedIn and other job boards are doing to the unemployed.  Compared to them, you’re a peach.

4- I responded to you anyway because I do need a job, but I didn’t buy any services.  I doubt you’ll write back unless my reply caused you to realize that you totally botched your original message.

5- I wish I could list “dealing with idiots” as a skill on my resume.  After so much job hunting, I’ve certainly earned it.

Technicalities Insult My Intelligence

If I rename this blog “Bumblepuppies Inc,” and call myself “Head Blogger,” does that mean I’m no longer unemployed and have a nifty new entry for my resume?  Or will my future employer’s legal department come after me after I’m hired because “Inc” is misleading and/or inaccurate?

HR people may be stupid but how stupid are they?  (Permission to rant in the comments is granted to all disgruntled job seekers.)

Head Assembled

This photo has nothing to do with my post, but it was the top option Zemanta offered.  Hooray for technology! (Photo credit: HAMACHI!)

Email Greetings Insult My Intelligence

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I’m unemployed and, as you can probably imagine, I spend a fair amount of time on my job search.  Looking for a job isn’t always as thrilling as people usually make it out to be.  In today’s digital age, the pitfalls are greater than ever before.

Back before the dawn of online communications, people would check the newspaper want ads or go to agencies in person or do whatever else was popular back then.  I wouldn’t know.  But these days, one must often apply by email and this can be tricky.  For example, a job advertisement might look something like this:

We are looking for a new employee with the standard set of qualifications.  To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to Terry J. Squawchawk at tjsquawchawk@hippocraticfunicular.samba.com

Since I’m addressing a specific person, I now have to devise an appropriate greeting for my email.  In the old days, I imagine that people could just say “Dear Sir or Madam” on those occasions when they were required to submit a letter.   Because advertisers paid newspapers by the word or letter, a contact person’s name was presumably not published unless it was absolutely necessary.  Consequently, applicants could also choose to address their letters to the HR department.

Life was simpler back then.

These days I have to know whether Terry J. Squawchawk is a man or woman because “Dear Sir or Madam” would be offensive.  And since one can’t always learn someone’s gender online, one must sometimes devise creative solutions.  Here are a few alternative salutations I’ve considered:

Dear Bodacious One,

O Captain My Captain,

Hey you!

To the boss of my dreams,

Yo bitch!

Hail Terry, full of grace,

To whom it may concern,

Hey hey Terry J!

Moo!

Your Majesty,

Hail to the Chief!

Oompa loompa doompety doo – I’ve got an application for you,

If you have any better ideas, please let me know.  Appropriate email greetings are critical and I don’t want to mess things up.

HR Incompetence Insults My Intelligence

25Aug09 ~ Grammar Assignment

(Photo credit: grace_kat)

I’ve been seeking employment for a long time and I’ve grown weary of HR departments.  Job applicants are supposed to submit an impeccably proofread cover letter and resume whenever we apply for jobs.  This is reasonable.  However, I regularly see job advertisements that list “mastery of spelling and grammer” [sic] as a qualification requirement.

Take a moment to let the irony sink in.

Take a second moment to pray it’s not your kid’s school that’s hiring people like this.  Or your employer, for that matter.  Remember, HR still handles many critical details for you and their incompetence can be even more challenging for current employees.

I especially love job ads for teachers that mandate a “mastery of spelling and grammer” right after extolling the school’s high academic standards.  Something’s high at those schools and it isn’t the standards.

So, if the folks in HR get things wrong, how are they supposed to know which applicants are getting things right?  Are applicants supposed to predict what mistakes HR will think are correct and replicate them?

Stupidity pays dividends if you’re stupid in the right way.